Why Acne Can Worsen in the Summer

Woman looking at acne in summer Why Acne Can Worsen in the Summer

If you suffer from acne, it’s probably no secret that summer can make your symptoms worse. From excess sweat to accumulated dirt to those extra hot days, here are all the factors that result in acne-prone skin during summer months… and how to prevent breakouts.

Why Does Acne Get Worse in Summer?

Summer Sweat, Heat, and Dirt

Acne is caused when the pores on the skin -- called comedones -- produce excess oil, or sebum. This sebum mixes with sweat, dirt, and dead skin cells and ultimately becomes trapped in the pore itself. A closed comedone is known as a whitehead and is a clogged follicle that’s not exposed to the air. Blackheads, or open comedones, are clogged pores that are open at the top. When the contents of the plugged follicle are exposed to the air, they oxidize, causing a black color that looks like dirt (but isn’t).

Because summer temperatures are warmer, excess sweat is more common. Additionally, most people spend more time outside during summer months. If you’re regularly in sand, dirt, saltwater, or chlorine, you might be exposing yourself to irritants that could cause breakouts. Finally, many sunscreens are oil-based and tend to be comedogenic, meaning that they can clog your pores.

Acne Treatment and Prevention

If you struggle with breakouts during the summer, there are a few preventative measures you can take. First, limit the amount of time you’re outside in intense heat. For example, if you’re working in the yard or spending time at the beach on a warm, sunny day, go inside frequently to cool off and wipe down your face with a clean, dry cloth. Look for oil-free sunscreens. These are usually mineral-based products that may include ingredients like zinc oxide or titanium oxide. Find something lightweight that also says “broad spectrum” so that you can be sure you’re getting appropriate levels of sun protection.

If you’re doing any physical activity that causes you to sweat, especially if it’s outdoors, be sure to wear the appropriate clothing. Choose natural fibers like a lightweight cotton rather than polyester activewear. Fabrics like polyester are made to wick away moisture, which means it won’t absorb any perspiration. Change clothes midday if needed, and always change out of sweaty clothing or wet swimsuits as soon as possible.

Don’t skimp on your skin care routine -- especially when it comes to moisturizing! Many people think that less moisture is better for acne, but that’s not the case here. If your skin isn’t well-hydrated, your pores will overproduce sebum, leading to breakouts. So moisturize regularly and drink plenty of water. Also, consider getting regular chemical peels for acne during the summer -- ideally every 6 weeks or so. This method of chemical exfoliation removes the topmost layer of skin -- including any excess dirt, sweat, or oil -- and can drastically reduce the risk of breakouts.

Contact Vanguard Dermatology

If you’re in the greater New York City area and want to try a chemical peel or talk to a dermatologist about your acne, contact Vanguard Dermatology today for an appointment with one of our board-certified specialists.

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